Niels Bruynseels at Knokke Hippique (Photo: Knokke Hippique)
The second Major of the year, the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen, takes place on 22nd July and is expected to attract over 40,000 spectators to witness the prestigious competition. The course, set by Frank Rothenberger, is considered to be one of the most challenging and demanding 5* tracks. The sport’s finest horse and rider partnerships are tested to their limits, displaying enviable skill and talent, striving to make history and to be crowned the Rolex Grand Prix champion.
Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Rider Watch
With the world’s best horse and rider combinations set to take center stage for Rolex Grand Prix, there are some notable contenders whose recent performance would state they are on track for a Rolex Major win:
Niels Bruynseels, the current Rolex live contender, has continued his great form since producing a lightning jump-off round at The Dutch Masters aboard his 12-year-old mare Gancia de Muze in March. The notoriously fast duo took the top prize in the Rolex Grand Prix at Knokke Hippique following a speedy and faultless jump-off. With the next stage of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping very much in his sites, Bruynseels will be pulling out all the stops to make sure his Rolex Grand Slam journey continues.
One of the most experienced riders on the circuit, Swiss hero Steve Guerdat, has had a successful summer so far. His most notable victory was in front of HM The Queen at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May. Seeing off top-class competitors, Guerdat rode an impeccable round to snap up the Rolex Grand Prix victory. Guerdat is no stranger when it comes to winning Majors; crowned champion at CHI Geneva on more than one occasion, Guerdat stays calm under pressure and will certainly be a formidable contender for the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen.
Fellow Rolex Testimonee, Eric Lamaze, has prepared well for the CHIO Aachen. At the Rolex Grand Prix in Windsor, he shaved time off Guerdat’s winning result, but a light touch on the pole resulted in four penalties. Fresh from his victory in the ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows with his 15-year-old mare, Fine Lady, Eric Lamaze will be hoping to continue his recent form as he eyes up the coveted Rolex Grand Prix trophy.
Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca is also looking strong, having won the Rolex Grand Prix in Rome (Piazza di Siena). De Luca and his chestnut gelding, Halifax Van Het Kluizebos, jumped two immaculate clear rounds, stopping the clock at 45.37 secs, making him one to watch.
Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum has tasted victory at CHIO Aachen once before, having won the Rolex Grand Prix in 2005 on her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Shutterfly. Michaels-Beerbaum will have the patriotic home-crowd support, willing her to repeat her 2005 success thirteen years on.
Rolex Testimonee, Scott Brash, the first and only rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, brings a wealth of experience and always performs well under pressure.
Behind the Scenes with Lorenzo De Luca, Number One Italian Rider
Who do you think is your biggest competitor on Sunday?
“There were some great performances yesterday. I think Philipp Weishaupt is looking very good, of course Daniel Deusser was on top form last night and Luciana Diniz has been riding really well so far this year.”
“It is going to be a very tough competition as there are a lot of good riders in the line-up!”
Do you have any superstitions before you compete?
“Not really. I just stay relaxed and keep my horse nice and quiet; he is very sensitive, so I need to be calm for him. I just focus on my horse, myself and that’s it!”
What advice can you give to young riders who aspire to be in your position one day?
“My best advice would be ‘to not go too quick!’ That can cause all sorts of problems. My second piece of advice is to keep learning and growing. The Show Jumping world is such a magical place, every horse and every rider is different, so you can always expand your knowledge of the sport.”
Thoughts on the course Sunday?
“It is going to be hard! Last year I remember the course was very difficult, and now the prize money has been increased and it is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping; the competition is going to be tougher than ever. I think the crowds are in for a treat!”
Behind the Stable Door with Sean Lynch, Daniel Deusser’s Groom
Who is Daniel riding in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday?
“He is riding Cornet D’Amour on Sunday, a really special horse with a very big character. He is very sensitive to noise and when there’s lots of it; he’s not the easiest to control but he is one of the nicest horses to be around. All my horses are nice and normal though, so I never have a problem with them.”
What is the horse’s routine immediately after a big competition like the Rolex Grand Prix at a Major?
“We wash them down and give them some hay, so they can relax and cool down. We put the ice boots on and then follow up with the spa boots and as soon as they are dry we put a massage blanket on for 45 minutes! The massage blanket is amazing and has different programmes, so we usually put it on the programme designed for back treatment relief if they have jumped a big class. Cornet gets more spa treatments than any of us do!”
Are you and Daniel thinking about the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?
“I am hoping that Sunday goes well and then we can really start to focus on the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.”
“It has made show jumping more interesting for the riders and the public, and it is certainly the thing that riders talk about wanting to win the most.”
“So, if we have success in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday we will be planning our schedule around the next Majors for sure.”
How do you cope with the pressure of a Rolex Grand Prix? Does Daniel feel the pressure?
“I do feel the pressure a bit! I have to do my job well enough to make sure Daniel has the best chance on Sunday. We have to work together to make sure the horse is fit and is in peak condition. With Cornet D’Amour I always get quite nervous, especially when he has won a class already like he did in the Grand Prix qualifier last night. Sometimes I just stay quiet for the whole day and don’t talk to anyone!”
“Daniel is Mr. Cool! He doesn’t let the pressure get to him; he knows what he needs to do and does the job. For me he is one of the best riders around, very relaxed and very calm.”
The Audi Prize, and second qualifier of the Rolex Grand Prix, provided an evening of world-class entertainment in the Brabanthal arena, with only five of the 41 starters jumping clear in the first round. Maikel Van Der Vleuten was third to go in the jump-off, navigating the course in a nimble fashion to produce the winning round of the night.
1st Place: MAIKEL VAN DER VLEUTEN (NED)
World number 11
Horse: Arera C, a 13-year-old bay mare
2nd Place: JOHNNY PALS (NED)
One of the top Dutch riders
Horse: Chat Botte Du Ruisseau Z, a 10-year-old chestnut stallion
Saturday’s sell-out crowd watched admirably as The FEI World Cup™ Driving Leg presented by Dodson & Horrell took to the arena with Boyd Exell demonstrating an unbeatable performance and taking home the title.
Lorenzo De Luca, the Italian rider who is proving such a hit, won the Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes and is now second in the H&M Leading Rider of Show rankings behind Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson ahead of H&M Sunday.
Jessica Mendoza was masterful when taking the under-23 title; Laura Renwick notched up Britain’s first senior win and the talented young Irishman Bertram Allen triumphed in the Christmas Masters.
The world’s leading driver Boyd Exell (AUS) showed the enthusiastic full house at Olympia just why he deserves that title. The six times World Cup™ Driving Champion and four times individual gold medallist drove two peerless rounds in the final leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving to take the win.
Finishing in third place last night in the qualifying round, behind Hungary’s Jozsef Dobrovitz snr and Koos de Ronde (NED), meant Exell took on the course before them. Up until then only one of the four previous drivers – Georg von Stein from Germany – had posted a clear round. Exell showed his intent by driving clear and clipped ten seconds off von Stein’s time. Following him, Dobrovitz and de Ronde both drove clear but Exell took the lead by some three seconds.
The top three competed again over a shortened course, starting from a zero score. Dobrovitz lost time at obstacle one attempting a tight turn and then had a knockdown at obstacle two. De Ronde pulled out all the stops and secured a very fast time but in doing so picked up five penalties.
Exell only had to drive clear but that was no barrier to him putting his foot flat to the floor. He galloped home clear two seconds faster than de Ronde to notch up his third win in FEI World Cup™ Driving qualifiers this season, keeping him in the top of the rankings.
All three top drivers paid tribute to the highly-charged atmosphere at Olympia where the crowd is so enthusiastically engaged with the competition.
“I feel on home ground here,” remarked Exell who moved from the UK to Holland two years ago.
“That does increase the pressure for me but equally we are all lifted by the crowd. The Show is the one we want to be at.” A sentiment endorsed by Dobrovitz competing here for the second year running.
Daniel Naprous (GBR) remarked, “Olympia gives British drivers the most wonderful platform to compete against the best in the world. They are so welcoming to us and we are getting better as a result. It’s a thank-you to Olympia.”
Italian rider Lorenzo De Luca brought the crowd to their feet with a stunning performance in the jump-off of the Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes.
The Olympia crowd has taken the young Italian to their hearts this week and he did not disappoint, pulling off an audacious round on the white-faced chestnut by Heartbreaker, Halifax van het Kluizebos, to clinch victory from his Stephex Stables team mate Daniel Deusser on Hidalgo VG.
The competition involved a timed first round from which 14 went through to the jump-off. Ben Maher put up a spirited challenge to finish third and best British on the eight-year-old Don Vito.
Lorenzo, a member of the Italian Air Force, is trained by Dutchman Henk Nooren and is based in Brussels with the Stephex Stables. This is his first appearance at Olympia. He will ride Limestone Grey in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier presented by H&M and Halifax in the Grand Prix.
“Halifax is very fast and careful and he wants to do his best,” said Lorenzo, 29, who is 17th in the Longines FEI World Rankings. “This is a super show. Everyone told me it was great, but now I know. It’s a proper horse show.”
The Italian star is now second in the H&M Leading Rider of the Show rankings, 18 points behind the runaway leader, Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson, ahead of H&M Sunday.
Laura Renwick secured Britain’s first outright show jumping win of the week in The Shelly Ashman International Ltd, E M Rogers (Transport) Ltd Father Christmas Stakes. This was an accumulator competition in which a clear jump over a fence accrues points, with a final optional joker fence offering a tempting double, its easier counterpart.
Remarkably, Laura has only ridden her winning partner, Con Chilli, for just two months. “She’s usually ridden by Yazmin Pinchen, but I have the ride on her as Yazmin is pregnant,” Laura explained. “The other two horses I have here are also Yazmin’s, but this will only be my second show with those. They are all going really well here and I am very fortunate to have them.”
Laura was also in the final shake up of The Christmas Masters, in which the top seven leading riders of the show so far were eligible to compete.
In this class, riders nominate a fence to go up before they jump. If they jump it clear, the prize pot increases by £500; if not, the prize fund stays the same and the fence is dropped back to its previous height. After each round, all those still clear jump again until the fifth and final round, in which the jump-off is against the clock.
Laura (Dominant H), Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Indiana) and Irishman Bertram Allen (High Valley) remained after four rounds, and went head-to-head for the winner-takes-all purse of £14,000.
Unfortunately, first-drawn Laura finished on four faults, but Bertram posted a fast clear, with a time that Malin could not match.
“It wasn’t an easy class to win. Often, if you get to the fifth round, you’ve won,” said Bertram. “It was difficult to know how fast to go as I was mid-drawn, so I didn’t want to risk going too fast and having a fence down.”
However, the young Irishman rode his round to perfection to take the spoils.
Team GBR Olympic reserve, Jessica Mendoza, has enjoyed a meteoric rise in show jumping, but until now there was one gap in her CV: The Dodson & Horrell and The World Class Programme U23 British Championships at Olympia, the London International Horse Show.
She put that right with a masterful victory on Wan Architect, despite 15-year-old Jack Whitaker, the European Pony Champion, running her close to the wire with a mature performance on the grey stallion Grade A Valentin R, one of three horses he qualified for Olympia.
Yazmin Davis finished third on Zilverster ll, having incurred a time penalty in the jump-off.
Jessica, Jack and Yazmin all jumped clear in the first round and were joined in the jump-off by the fastest of the four-faulters, who knew they had nothing to lose by going for speed and pressurising the top three.
Graham Gillespie set a blistering target with a clear round in 35.86 seconds on Celine, which was good enough to take fourth place, and Millie Allen, a star of the Pony and Junior circuits, was fifth on the stallion Balou Star.
Despite all her experience, Jessica, 21, commented that she felt Kelvin Bywater’s track was “stiff enough” and said: “I watched everyone’s rounds very carefully. Jack did a very smooth round which was hard to gauge so I knew I had to go for it. I’ve been second and third in this class so winning it at last really means a lot.”
Jessica, who has been competing Wan Architect in other classes at Olympia, was 4.54 seconds faster than Jack but his calm, classical approach was impressive and father Michael, who was in the audience for once, was visibly as proud as punch.
“I’m very, very pleased,” Jack said afterwards, “though I should have gone quicker! This is a prestigious class and I’ve been trying to get here for ages.”
Other highlights include Lee Windeatt and Ag Ch Darleyfalls Pipistrelle taking the victory in The Kennel Club Large Senior Dog Agility Finals.
Lorenzo de Luca and Limestone Grey. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Calgary, AB – The 2016 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5* began on Wednesday with first-time wins in the famous International Ring for both Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Steve Guerdat (SUI). De Luca kept his recent winning streak alive with a victory in the Akita Drilling Cup 1.60m aboard Limestone Grey. Guerdat took the first win of the day riding Albfuehren’s Happiness in the Telus Cup 1.50m.
The ‘Masters’ Tournament runs September 7-11, 2016, featuring the best horses and riders in the world competing at Spruce Meadows. Highlights include Friday’s Mercedes-Benz Evening of the Horse, which hosts the exciting ATCO Six Bar competition; the BMO Nations’ Cup on Saturday, with teams from around the world competing for top honors; and Sunday’s CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, with a staggering $2 million in prize money up for grabs in this year’s competition.
The course designer in the International Ring for this year’s ‘Masters’ competition is Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios. Palacios set the track for 51 starters in the afternoon’s Akita Drilling Cup 1.60m, with 18 advancing to the jump-off, and 10 double clear rounds. De Luca and Stephex Stables’ Limestone Grey clocked the winning time of 34.30 seconds. Frank Schuttert (NED) and Handelshuis Schuttert’s Winchester HS finished second in 35.34 seconds, and Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and Ludo Philippaerts’ H&M Challenge vd Begijnakker placed third with their opening jump-off time of 35.55 seconds.
De Luca’s recent string of victories includes a big win in St. Moritz, Switzerland with Limestone Grey, as well as a major win in the grand prix in Dublin, Ireland with Ensor de Litrange LXII. Commenting on the continuation of his recent success with a win at Spruce Meadows, de Luca remarked, “It is fantastic. I did not think I would win straight away the first day. The horses have been in great form. The last few months they have been jumping very well. My horse was very good the first round today. I was a little bit afraid because everybody said the ring is spooky for some horses, but I took this horse with me in Dublin and Hickstead, and he was very good over there. Today he jumped very well, so I am very happy.”
Limestone Grey is a ten-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (by Try-Time) that de Luca began riding in October of 2015. After jumping in Florida this winter, the pair returned to Europe, where Limestone Grey jumped as de Luca’s second horse in 5* competitions.
Commenting on his mount, de Luca stated, “He is improving a lot. He is sensitive, and really intelligent, and really fast.”
The rider continued, “I knew there were so many good riders in the jump-off, so I just watched the first to go, and I knew that I had to go a little bit everywhere. He is really good on the short turns, so the turn from one to two was very good for him, and then I just kept going and he was great.”
Remarking on his first time competing at Spruce Meadows, de Luca smiled, “It is like a dream. It was always a dream for me to come here. This week we also have the Global Champions Tour in Rome and everybody was pushing me to go there. But when you have two good horses like that at the moment, I thought it was a good time to come here, and I am really pleased to be here.”
Guerdat Opens ‘Masters’ Tournament with a Win
Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat and Albfuehren’s Happiness were the first winners of the week in Calgary, opening Wednesday’s competition with a victory in the Telus Cup 1.50m jump-off. For Guerdat’s first-ever victory in Spruce Meadows’ famed International Ring, the rider topped an eight-horse jump-off out of 74 first round starters. With six double clear over the short course, USA’s Hardin Towell and Jennifer Gates’ SF Ariantha set the pace in 36.86 seconds to eventually finish third. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Chacco Kid followed with a very fast time of 36.75 seconds, but settled for second place. Cian O’Connor (IRL) and Callisto jumped into fourth place with a time of 37.28 seconds. Patricio Pasquel (MEX) followed with the sixth place time of 38.24 seconds aboard Candela. Nigel Coupe (GBR) then secured fifth place honors with his time of 38.16 seconds riding Jubilee III. Last to go, Steve Guerdat and Albfuehren’s Happiness stole the lead with a time of 35.71 seconds.
Happiness, a 10-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Heartbeat x Lambrusco ASK) owned by Hofgut Albführen GmbH, began with Guerdat as an eight-year-old in 2014 and has become very competitive this year.
“I have built her up slowly,” Guerdat explained. “She did not have so much experience when she came to me as an eight-year-old. Then as a nine-year-old I tried to step her up because she had to learn the job and this year she has been good. She has won some 2* and 3* grand prixs and placed in some 1.50m competitions. That is a good height for her – bigger is more difficult for her – but at 1.50m she is very competitive and very fast. She can go fast every day.”
Speaking of Wednesday’s competition, Guerdat noted, “It was a nice course. We had so many starters, so just eight coming back was quite good. Then I was last to go (in the jump-off), which is always the best spot. I knew, more or less, what I had to do and she is always a very naturally fast horse. There were not many places where you could leave strides out, so it was actually a perfect jump-off for her, and I did not have to really rush anything. She is so fast off the ground that it was just enough to beat Eric.”
As the 2012 Olympic champion and back-to-back FEI World Cup Finals winner (2015 and 2016), among many other accolades, Wednesday’s victory was Guerdat’s first at Spruce Meadows.
“Most of the time I had two horses here – one for the Nations’ Cup and one for the Grand Prix – so I was always saving them through the week to be successful in those two main classes,” Guerdat explained. “Those first two or three days were always quite long because I never really had a horse to play the game. This year was different. I just had one first horse to bring that is going to do the Nations’ Cup and the Grand Prix, so I brought another one that was competitive for the other classes.
“This is one of my favorite venues,” Guerdat added. “I love to show here because of this ring, because of its fences, and because of its courses. It is quite tough here because we are not used to jumping fences like this and it always takes a few days to get in the rhythm. This is one date that I do not want to miss for anything. Every year, Calgary is one of the big yellow marks on my calendar of the most important places to go. I want to be good here every year and I am trying to achieve my goal.”
The ‘Masters’ Tournament continues on Thursday with the ATCO Founders Classic 1.50m followed by the CANA Cup 1.60m. For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Lorenzo de Luca and Ensor de Litrange LXII. Photos copyright Sportfot.
Lilly Higgins and Shannon Eckel Are Champions in Alessandro Albanese Equitation 15-17
Wellington, FL – March 19, 2016 – It was a day of firsts for Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca as the 28-year-old rider guided Ensor de Litrange LXII to victory in the $130,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3* on Saturday during week ten of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). It was the rider’s first grand prix win at the Winter Equestrian Festival on a new horse that he was competing in its very first FEI competition. It was also only the pair’s second jump-off together, as they topped a seven-horse tiebreaker, with Emily Short (USA) and Coco II finishing second, and Sharn Wordley (NZL) and Barnetta placing third.
WEF 10, sponsored by Horseware Ireland, concludes on Sunday, March 20, featuring the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) set the grand prix course for 45 starters competing in the International Ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, with seven clear rounds to proceed to the jump-off, and five double clears.
Emily Short and her own Coco II were first to advance to the jump-off, setting the pace with a clear round in 42.75 seconds. Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Starlight Farms’ Helios jumped next with one rail down in 42.57 seconds to eventually finish seventh. Blythe Marano and Riverview Farms’ Quabelle followed with a clear round in 44.18 seconds to earn fourth place honors. Vanessa Mannix (CAN) and her own Rubens LS La Silla also cleared the short course in 45.31 seconds to place fifth.
Lorenzo de Luca and Ensor de Litrange LXII jumped next, clocking the winning round in 40.61 seconds. Sharn Wordley followed with the third place time of 43.85 seconds aboard the Sky Group’s Barnetta. Last to go, Eric Lamaze had the time in 40.00 seconds, but dropped one rail with his brand new mount Chacco Kid, owned by the Chacco Kid Group, to finish sixth.
Ensor de Litrange LXII is a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Nabab de Reve x Mr. Blue) owned in partnership by Stephex Stables, Stal Lansink, and Lorenzo de Luca. The gelding was previously ridden by Belgium’s Jos Lansink and moved to de Luca in November.
“It is a new horse for me,” de Luca explained. “I started doing some small classes with him, and then in WEF 6 I started to do just national classes with him. This is the first FEI class that he has jumped with me, so I am really happy about that.
“He is a fantastic horse. He is very scopey and really careful,” de Luca continued. “He has a little bit of special technique in front, but you know that he really wants to do a good job. He has very good balance. I did not think that I could be fast in the jump-off because I did one jump-off in a national 1.45m class with him and that is it. This is my second jump-off with him, but he has a big stride, and the jump-off suited me and the horse really well, so everything worked.”
Saturday’s victory was de Luca’s first grand prix win at WEF, and it worked to the rider’s favor that the class was held in the morning instead of at night due to incoming weather.
“Finally!” de Luca said of getting the win. “I have to be honest – this is the first time that I rode the horse in FEI, so he has not done a night class with me. When I walked the course during the WEF (Challenge Cup), they said they moved the grand prix and I said that if he jumped well on Thursday then I would do the grand prix during the day, so it was good for me.”
Commenting on the track set by Vaillancourt, de Luca stated, “When I walked the course I really liked it. The height was good; there were really big verticals, and the oxers were wide enough. The triple combination was really delicate with the vertical in between two oxers. I liked the five-stride after the triple combination. There were a few options, and it was really technical at the end with the double of verticals that we have not had in the grand prixs for a long time. I thought it was a fair course, and I think the course designer did a very good job.”
The course also suited 23-year-old American rider Emily Short and her mount, Coco II, an 11-year-old AES gelding (La Poco x Calato). Short began training with Ireland’s Cian O’Connor at the end of 2014 and just bought Coco II in October, bringing the gelding to Wellington in January after competing in a few shows in Ireland and Belgium.
“I have had a really good season here with him,” Short detailed. “I started jumping some of the 1.40 and 1.45m classes here, and then I jumped on the grass field in the Artisan Farms Under 25 class and was fourth. Then I went up to Live Oak and had a really good weekend there. Then coming back to Wellington after not being here for five or six weeks, he was fresh, and like a new horse again jumping in the International Ring. He jumped really well today, so I was very happy with him.”
Short competed at WEF last winter and part of the winter before, and prior to that had shown in Ocala, FL during the winter. Saturday’s second place grand prix prize was her top finish at the Winter Equestrian Festival to date, and she completed a great jump-off on the way to that result.
“Going first in the first round, and then in the jump-off, this horse Coco was probably the best horse for that,” Short explained. “He has a monster stride, so when there is an option to leave a stride out, I am always going to leave it out pretty much. In the jump-off, I just had a really good plan going in, and rode it like I planned and just hoped nobody would catch me. Unfortunately Lorenzo did, but I am still happy with second.”
New Zealand’s Sharn Wordley was thrilled with his third place finish in the grand prix for the second week in a row. He also finished third in week nine’s $380,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix CSI 5* with the Sky Group’s Casper. This week’s prize came aboard Barnetta, a 12-year-old Westphalian gelding (Baloubet du Rouet x Polydor) also owned by the Sky Group. Commenting on two great finishes with two different horses, Wordley smiled, “I am having the best week of my life!”
The rider also had a second place finish with Barnetta in the $212,000 U.S. Open Rolex Grand Prix CSI 3* at the 2015 Rolex Central Park Horse Show in New York City this fall.
“I got him just over a year ago,” Wordley said of his mount. “I did one small grand prix with him in Wellington last year and then he popped a splint, so I did not get to ride him or show again until the summer. I have only been competing him for just over six months, so I am still just getting to know him really, but he has been a really good horse for me. He has been really consistent. He is not the fastest, but he is always there and around about in the prizes, so he is a very nice horse.”
Tom MacGuinness of Horseware Ireland was on hand for Saturday’s grand prix and spoke of the long relationship that his company has had with the Winter Equestrian Festival, dating all the way back to 1980 with their brand, Triple Crown.
“The first time I came here was in 1989, and all that was here was a grass mound, and a grass field, and a tent,” MacGuinness noted. “Six years ago, Jessica Newman told me to come to Wellington for her gala for Just World International, and I came down and could not believe the changes that had been made here. I met Michael Stone, and Mark Bellissimo, and the whole crew here, and I said that this has really grown to be the place in the world for all equestrian activities. Nothing compares to Wellington in the whole world; no one even comes close. I have my polo team here, I have my jumper here, and to me, Wellington is my second home. It is a fantastic location, and I love it here.”
De Luca agreed with MacGuinness, adding, “There is no better place to be for the winter. This is the best show. You can improve your riding, and the horses get ready for the season. You can show everything from young horses up to the Nations’ Cup, and all of the facilities are very good, so it is fantastic to be here.”
Ensor de Litrange LXII’s groom, Heidi Barrett, received the Groom’s Initiative Award presented by Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, to reward her dedication and hard work as an integral member of the winning team.
Emily Short also earned the Leading Lady Rider Award for week ten, presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman in memory of Dale Lawler.
Also competing in the International Ring on Saturday, Vanessa Mannix and Carolien v/h Scheefkasteel were victorious in the $15,000 MAYBACH – ICONS OF LUXURY SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Classic. The $1,500 Animo USA Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class concluded the day with a win for Kelly Tropin and Libertas Farm LLC’s Adorose.
Lilly Higgins and Shannon Eckel Are Champions in Alessandro Albanese Equitation 15-17
The Alessandro Albanese Equitation 15-17 division was split this week, and two champions were named. The first championship was awarded to Shannon Eckel on Quantum Chanel, an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Robert McNeel. They won both over fences classes.
Eckel is 17 years old and hails from Rockaway, NJ. She trains with Frank Madden at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY and has only been riding Quantum Chanel, known as “Charlie” around the barn, for three weeks. Their relationship has come together quickly.
“He’s helped me learn a lot. I’ve think we have both taught each other quite a bit. I know when I go in the ring he’ll have my back,” Eckel said.
Eckel had a good start with a solid trip in the first class, but was faced with a challenge when she returned for her second round.
“The first round, I was really happy with. I knew I did fairly well, (and) I read the lines well. The second round, it started to completely downpour, so that was a little interesting!” she recalled. “I don’t know Charlie too well, so I was a little unsure how he would handle the rain. He was really good, and it meant nothing to him. I love the rain; I always do my best in the rain. I guess that held true today!”
This is the first year that Eckel has competed at the Winter Equestrian Festival, and this was her first championship. “It’s really cool, considering this is my first WEF ever. When we started, I said that I [would] be happy if I got a few ribbons. To walk away with a champion made the whole circuit. It definitely made me really happy and gave me some confidence. I want to say thank you to everybody, Frank, Jen, Stella, and Robert for letting me ride Charlie. They believe in me.”
Lilly Higgins and Common Sense, a ten-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding by Contendro owned by Woodacres Stables LLC, won the second section championship. They placed first in both over fences classes and were fourth in the under saddle.
Higgins, 17, from Summit, NJ, has been riding Common Sense since December of 2015. Coming from a jumper background and recently gelded, he was sent to Beacon Hill and trainer Stacia Madden to become an equitation horse. Higgins got the ride on the talented horse.
“We worked a lot before coming down to WEF,” Higgins explained. “We have been trying to get him to slow his brain down by doing the 15-17 classes. I love working with him. He loves to learn and do the right thing. This is the fourth or fifth week showing him in this division. He’s really starting to understand what his job is and knowing what he’s supposed to do.”
Going into today’s over fences classes, Higgins was told by her trainers to attempt tight inside turns that most of the other riders had not tried, “to make it harder on myself and give him a challenge,” Higgins said. “He really rose to the challenge in both classes. I was really happy with how he did that. I’m really excited to keep working with him and see how he does in some of the tougher classes.”
There were three reserve champions named: Emma Seger and Cohiba won an under saddle, Emma Lynch and Anton placed second and third over fences, while Megan Hilton on Cantoblanco won the other under saddle class.
The tenth week of competition at the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival concludes on Sunday featuring the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic in the International Ring at 10 a.m. The Large Pony Hunters will also present championship honors in Ring 12 in the morning. For more information and full results, please visit www.pbiec.com.
Annabel Revers Tops Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search
Wellington, FL – February 26, 2016 – Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and Stephex Stables’ Egano van het Slogenhof jumped to victory in the $35,000 Illustrated Properties 1.45m Classic on Friday during week seven of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival.
WEF 7, sponsored by Suncast®, runs February 24-28, 2016. The week’s remaining highlight classes include the $380,000 Suncast® Grand Prix CSI 5* on Saturday evening and the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Sunday. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
Santiago Varela (ESP) set the speed track for 69 starters in Friday’s 1.45m with 20 clear rounds. Lorenzo de Luca and Egano van het Slogenhof were the winners in a blistering time of 64.72 seconds. Laura Chapot (USA) took second and third place honors, finishing second aboard her own and Mary Chapot’s Thornhill Kate in 65.12 seconds, and placing third with her own and McLain Ward’s Quointreau un Prince in a time of 65.41 seconds. Richie Moloney (IRL) and Equinimity LLC’s Alsvid clocked in fourth in 65.73 seconds. De Luca also took fifth place honors aboard Stephex Stables’ and his own Limestone Grey with a time of 65.78 seconds.
De Luca went 26th in the order aboard his first mount, Limestone Grey, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Try-Time. His time with Limestone briefly held the lead, until Chapot and Quointreau un Prince came in 37th to take over. De Luca was not to be outdone, however, and returned three rounds later with Egano van het Slogenhof to reclaim his top spot. Chapot then jumped into second with Thornhill Kate, and Moloney jumped the fourth place time with Alsvid, pushing Limestone into fifth place overall.
Class winner Egano van het Slogenhof is a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Electro x Nagano. The horse showed successfully under Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet until very recently when the horse flew to Florida and De Luca took over the ride.
“Last week he jumped a couple of classes and today was already good,” De Luca stated. “He is a very competitive horse; so sweet, so fast, so I am really happy to have him here.”
De Luca has been riding for Stephex Stables since December 2014 and brought eight horses to compete for Stephex at this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival. Speaking about his two rounds aboard Limestone and Egano, De Luca noted, “I tried a little bit with Limestone and then Laura Chapot went straight away into the lead. I know she is always really fast, so I tried again with Egano. Even if I do not know him that well, I know that he is really fast and smooth, and he jumped everything good. I am pleased about Limestone too. He jumped really well today. I have a few horses that are in really good shape, so I am happy about that.”
Speaking about the difference between the two mounts, De Luca detailed, “Limestone is a really light horse. He is really, really careful. I have known him a little bit longer than Egano, so he is really easy. He is really elastic. I will try to build him in the bigger classes over the next few weeks and try to jump him in some grand prixs.”
“Egano for me is a new horse,” the rider continued. “I tried today to win, but of course he has already jumped a lot of big classes with some other riders. He has all the potential to do something bigger. I stay here until the end, so they are all going to have the chance to jump in bigger classes.”
Speaking of his winning round and where he caught Chapot’s time, De Luca added, “I think I made up time a little bit everywhere. The time was so quick and so careful. The last line I was quite close on the vertical, and then I kept going for the five (strides), and everything worked really well. He is a really nice horse. His brain is like a computer. He is a genius.”
Also competing in the International Ring on Friday, Jorge Matte and Conquest topped the $2,500 MAYBACH – ICONS OF LUXURY Power & Speed. The $6,000 Illustrated Properties 1.40m Speed Challenge was held in the afternoon in a California Split with 113 entries in total. Georgina Bloomberg and Gotham Enterprizes’ South Street were the winners of Section A with the fastest time overall. Alex Granato and Paige Tredennick’s Carlchen W topped Section B with the second fastest round.
Annabel Revers Tops Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search
In the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, Annabel Revers (16) of Weston, MA, rode Quax, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Quite Capitol owned by Beechwood Stables LLC, to the win. Revers, who trains with Olympic gold medalist Peter Wylde, started riding Quax a year ago and they converted the horse from the jumper to the equitation ring.
“I’m so happy with our win today. We have been working on getting him smooth for the equitation,” she said.
Revers topped a strong field of 32 riders for the win over Madison Goetzmann on Contelido and Sydney Shulman with Snatch de Cordrac. T. J. O’Mara and Kaskade were fourth, while Francesa Dildabanian and Checkland were fifth.
The Talent Search has both over fences and on the flat phases. For jumping, Revers commented, “The course was great. It tested adjustability. You could make the lengthening and shortening necessary. If your horse wasn’t adjustable, it was tough. We were thinking about having a forward pace for this course. You needed it for the forward lines.”
The overall look of Revers and her mount helped them secure victory. “Quax is awesome on the flat. He makes a nice picture and is really beautiful, which always helps. He really makes my flatting what it is.”
Revers, who is in tenth grade, comes to the Winter Equestrian Festival on the weekends and also competes in the hunter and jumper rings. She has been victorious in the ASPCA Maclay and WIHS Equitation classes so far this circuit.
She said, “I think the equitation helps, because it teaches you the skills you need for the jumper ring, the smoothness you need in the hunter ring.”
WEF 7 continues on Saturday, featuring the $380,000 Suncast® Grand Prix CSI 5* in the International Ring in the evening. The THIS Children’s Medal 14 & Under will be the highlight in Ring 8. For more information and full results, please visit www.pbiec.com.
Laura Lee Montross and Nairobi Nights Are Best in Camping World Adult Amateur Hunters 51 & Over
Wellington, FL – March 14, 2014 – Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and Elky van het Indihof sped their way to an exciting win in Friday’s $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m on a beautiful afternoon at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. De Luca and Elky van het Indihof have had several top finishes at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) recently and finally got their victory with a fantastic round to beat out USA’s Caitlin Ziegler and Christine.
FTI WEF week 10, sponsored by Horseware Ireland, continues through March 16, 2014. The week will feature the $125,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3* on Saturday and the $34,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Sunday. The FTI WEF features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.
Showing in the International Arena at PBIEC on Friday, the $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m saw 41 entries in total with 15 clear rounds. The second entry to show over Richard Jeffery’s (GBR) speed track, Caitlin Ziegler, set a very fast pace in 67.10 seconds with Artisan Farms LLC’s Christine that would hold the lead through most of the class. Not until Lorenzo de Luca entered the ring, third to last in the order with T & L NV’s Elky van het Indihof, did the lead change hands. The pair blazed through the course in 65.98 seconds for the win.
Abigail McArdle (USA) and David McArdle’s Cosma 20 finished in 67.57 seconds to place third. Ben Maher (GBR) and Kavanagh IV, owned by Maher and John Renick, finished fourth in 67.71 seconds.
De Luca (26) first got Elky van het Indihof in July of 2013 and has had great results with the ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Toulon x Thunder van de Zuuthoeve), including wins and top finishes throughout Europe. This was Elky’s first time traveling to Florida for the winter, and she has made consistent improvement with each week of competition.
The mare started out with sixth and seventh place finishes during week five in the $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m and $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic respectively. In week six, she moved up to place fourth in the $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m and fifth in the $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m. During week eight’s CSIO competition, she stepped up her game once more to finish second in the $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m. Now in week ten, the speedy horse kicked things off by placing third in Wednesday’s $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m and then finally got her win in the $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m speed class.
De Luca was thrilled with the win and praised his horse on an excellent round. “It is nice to finally win a class with her here,” he smiled. “She is fantastic. She is a super fast horse, and she wins a lot. She is so competitive, and she loves the speed classes. Sometimes I try to jump some grand prix classes with her, but she is very competitive in the speed ones.”
“We made 65 seconds,” de Luca said of his time. “That was actually my plan to do 65, because I saw Caitlin go and her horse has a really big stride, but I think my horse is faster on the turns. She is very quick. It was quite a tricky, delicate course, but it was really nice.”
This was Elky van het Indihof’s last day showing this week. She will go to the Equine Conditioning Center for some pampering and then head home to rest up for the last two weeks of FTI WEF competition. De Luca will show his top horse, Zoe II, in Saturday night’s $125,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix 3*. Zoe is also already qualified for week twelve’s $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5*.
De Luca came to the FTI WEF for the first time last year and explained that this is the first year that he has had some really good horses here. He is from Italy, but has spent the last three years living in Belgium, riding for Neil Jones Equestrian. This year they brought seven horses, some for sale, some for the small classes, and four for the bigger classes. They are stabled with sponsor Tim Collins.
“Mr. Collins has a stable here, so we started the partnership with him last year, and now we are going to keep coming in the winter. It is beautiful to come here,” de Luca noted. “It is a perfect show to go to in the winter. In Europe it is really cold, and we don’t like showing indoors that much actually. This is the best show to make the horses ready for the season.”
“It was quite a shock,” de Luca said of his first trip to Wellington last year. “The level of competition is unbelievable. That is the top level in the world I think. They are the best riders with the best horses, and you just learn a lot staying here. Last year I didn’t have too many horses to compete, but it was a great experience just being here because you meet some people who have always been your idols for a long time. McLain Ward is I think one of the best, Nick Skelton, Laura Kraut… they are all here. Ben Maher – Ben is unbelievable. Scott Brash… I mean, the best are here. It is a perfect way to compete with them and get stronger and learn a lot.”
“You just learn from watching the classes, and the jump-offs are amazing,” de Luca added. “I think last year, when I came back to Europe, I was way better after the three months here because you get better so quickly. Three months here is like one year in Europe to show in the big level.”
After competing in Wellington in 2013, de Luca moved up to jump at the five-star level for the first time and felt confident because of the experience that he had gained.
“When we went back to Europe we got two very good horses,” he explained. “We started to do the 5* Nations Cup with my good mare, and we also got a horse to show at the World Cup in Verona. It was actually very good because then you go there and you are already competitive. If you go there and maybe you have not come here to compete, you try just to get around, but this show makes you so much stronger.”
Earlier in the day, a $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge was held in the International Arena with the second win of the week for Hannah Selleck (USA) and Descanso Farm’s Bauer. Ireland’s Paul O’Shea guided Skara Glen’s Sienna to victory later in the afternoon in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class.
Laura Lee Montross and Nairobi Nights Are Best in Camping World Adult Amateur Hunters 51 & Over
Laura Lee Montross, of Bedford, NY, took home another championship title with her own Nairobi Nights at the FTI WEF. The pair won the $5,000 Peggy Cone Adult Amateur Classic during World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Week earlier this season at the FTI WEF, and followed up that win with a week ten division championship title in the Camping World Adult Amateur Hunter 51 & Over division on Friday morning.
Nairobi Nights, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding out of Ingur B. by Nairobi, placed first, second, and seventh over fences for the division championship. The reserve championship went to Shadowplay, ridden by Gay Peterson and owned by Perry Peterson. Shadowplay and Gay jumped to third and first over fences. The pair was also awarded the Champion Equine Insurance Hunter Style Award for their efforts.
Montross was thrilled to pick up another win at the FTI WEF given the caliber of competition that attends the show. “I’m very happy to have such a nice horse and a great trainer. I love this show. It’s nice to be here the whole season, and to be consistent as well is very rewarding,” Montross said. “I think everybody likes to come here and you get the majority of adult riders. In summertime, people spread out. I think it is one of the more competitive horse shows that we see.”
Since their week six win, Montross thought Nairobi Nights still felt fantastic, describing him as a horse that truly enjoys the show ring, particularly the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring at PBIEC.
“He felt very happy. He likes this ring a lot, so he walks right in there and does his job really well. It’s nice I can gallop around, and that’s when he does the best. He was good yesterday in the Rost too, but we really love this ring.”
Montross has owned Nairobi Nights for eight years, and while she is grateful to have such a well-developed bond with the gelding, she acknowledged he was difficult as a young horse. She turned the reins over to trainer Jimmy Torano and hunter professional Holly Orlando before taking the ride back five years ago.
“I would try every once in a while, and then give him back to the professionals. The past five years or so, I’ve had him [to show on my own], and it’s been great,” Montross smiled.
Of Nairobi Night’s development over the years, Montross noted, “He is very quiet in the ring. He puts his ears forward and just goes around. When he’s feeling good, he keeps a nice even pace and he jumps a nice jump. He stays even and has a nice temperament.”
Nairobi Nights has turned into the perfect amateur hunter partner for Montross. While he has a tendency to feed off any nerves he can sense from his rider, Montross can take it all in stride after getting to know the horse so well.
“I think that comes with just knowing him so well, that’s why it’s nice to have a horse for so long that you feel comfortable,” Montross commented.
Showing in the adult amateur hunters has been especially rewarding for Montross, who finds her division in particular to exude an atmosphere of camaraderie.
“[I find that is true] especially here in Florida, because we’re here for the whole twelve weeks. Even the weeks we’re not showing we still come and watch our division. Everyone’s very friendly, especially the 51 and over. We’re all here and having a good time. It’s competitive, but everybody’s enjoying it.”
Competition for week ten of the FTI WEF continues on Saturday in Ring 8 with the THIS Children’s Medal 15-17. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.
About FTI Consulting, Inc.
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 4,000 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.
About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded.